Thursday, 30 July 2009
The former forecourt is occupied by a petrol station and the roof above the pumps makes it difficult to get a decent picture. The one below was made by stitching six different photos. It is not perfect but should give a good indication of the size of this wall mosaic. Click on it for an enlarged version.
Location: Merton Road / Both pictures taken on: 04/03/2008
The green / gold colour scheme is really effective and stands out nicely against the bricks. It is pretty similar to that of the lovely Art Nouveau mosaics of T. J. Boulding & Sons in Fitzrovia.
Even though Balham-based United Service Transport seemed to have been quite a large company, I could not find anything about it in the local history books available at nearby libraries. All I could gather was that by 1965, the company and its large but ageing fleet were taken over by the Ewer Group, once one of Britain's largest coach operators.
The back of the building on Burr Road is now occupied by a car dealer and all traces of the original owner have disappeared.
Location: New Cross Road / Picture taken on: 23/07/2009
Painted next to New Cross Gate station, this sign would have tried to lure commuters away from the local Gaumont New Cross and New Cross Empire to the Tower Cinema further away. Opened on 19th November 1914, the Tower was designed by the architect H. Courtenay Constantine and would have been fairly similar to The Angel in Islington and the Scala in King's Cross, with, as the name suggests, a tower rising 100 ft above Rye Lane (the tower of the Angel Cinema at 7 Islington Green still exists). The Tower closed on 1st December 1956, two years and a half after the Empire and three years and a half before the Gaumont. Nowadays a car park stands on the site of the Tower, and a car wash on that of the Empire. Part of the Gaumont building has survived and houses the Venue nightclub.
Follow This Sign
Location: Highgate Road / Picture taken on: 14/08/2008
The Forum, with its Art Deco facade is still a prominent building in Kentish Town. Opened in 1934, it became part of the Associated British Cinemas family one year later. Closed in 1970, it was turned like many cinemas that escaped demolition into a bingo hall. Nowadays it is in use as a concert hall and theatre.
I doubt that any of these cinemas would have screened any of Ingmar Bergman's films. More popular movies with namesake actress, and compatriot, Ingrid Bergman would have been more likely.
For more information about these four cinemas, you can visit the excellent website http://cinematreasures.org/
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Large numbers of bakers' signs appear to have been sponsored by either Hovis or Daren. These companies provided the recipe and ingredients for baking the bread, and paid for painted signs, which displayed their name in letters at least as large as those for the baker himself. Unfortunately a quick search on the internet for Daren does not reveal much about this particular brand, which must have been quite popular at some point.
This sign was painted on several occasions, the name "Daren" appearing three times. Unfortunately the upper part is now barely legible, apart from the aforementioned company's name and "Bread".
Although the lower part is much better preserved, it has been partly obliterated. Here is what is left of it:
The Best Brown Bread
... of the Wheat
Additionally the words "Electric Machine", written in white and forming an arc across the second line, can still be read. The use of such a device would have been a selling argument, telling prospective customers this was a modern bakery. Electric machines may also have guaranteed a more consistent product day after day.
Location: Daneville Road / Both pictures taken on: 16/07/2009
Daren's main competitor was undoubtedly Hovis, a name crafted in 1890 from the Latin Hominis Vis (meaning "strength of man") to market bread produced using Smith's Patent Process Germ Flour. In 1898 S. Fitton & Son became The Hovis Bread Flour Company Ltd. From the very beginning Hovis used a whole range of marketing techniques to increase brand awareness and its share of the market. The number of Hovis ghost signs still around testifies to its success.
Today, rather than using one of the better known London signs (don't worry, they will appear on another post), I decided to put one I spotted recently while exploring Tonbridge on my way to see the 13th century mural paintings in the Church of St Thomas a Beckett, Capel, and the wonderful Chagall windows in the Church of All Saints, Tudeley.
Still the Best
To celebrate its 120th anniversary, the company produced a little book (available at http://www.hovisbakery.co.uk/about-hovis/) but it does not explain why between the 1920s and the 1950s a tilde, sometimes simplified to a dash, was placed on the "O" of Hovis... I'm sure someone out there will have an idea.
Location: Barden Road, Tonbridge / Both pictures taken on: 14/06/2009So now, I can only hope I won't forget the bread tonight!
Can Be Obtained Here
"Little Peter" (the suffix -kin meaning little, like -kijn or -ken in Dutch or -chen in German) was the face of a product launched by Joseph Arthur Rank after he joined his father's milling business in 1905 at the age of 17. Apparently Peterkin's Self-Raising Flour was not a big success but it was still being sold by 1926. That year "a grocer was summoned at Marylebone Police Court by the Hampstead Borough Council for having sold to the prejudice of the purchaser, egg custard not of the nature, substance and quality demanded." You can read more about the case here: http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/AN/article.asp?doi=an9265100185
The case was dismissed on the grounds that there were no standard for custard powder and that given the price of Peterkin's (1 and 1/2 d. for a pint packet), customers should not expect too much of it... What a surprise!
Location: St John's Hill / Both pictures taken on: 05/03/2008
I always thought it was a bit of a miracle this ghost sign was still with us, given its position on a major thoroughfare, and in such a good state.
Although the following signs are not as eye-catching, I include them on this first post simply because they are the nearest ones to where I live (unless another one is hiding right under my nose and I have managed to miss it so far!). As it is often the case the same wall was used by different businesses to advertise their products or services and the texts overlap.
Below is the right-hand side of the wall:
A Flins [?]
...al Motor Body
Having stumbled on this sign, it is easy to walk away hoping to find another one further down the road... Yet there are clearly three texts on this part of the wall and a close look reveals that the last two lines start on the left, on the part of the wall that appears empty at first sight. I have enhanced slightly the picture below to make whatever is left of the sign come out. The most legible part is next to the little window.
... Work ...
Cars Lodged in Garage
Phone Putney 2385
Location: Ruvigny Gardens / Both pictures taken on: 30/04/2008